The Tragic Death Of Mahlon Reyes From Deadliest Catch

Frequent viewers of the Discovery Channel reality series "Deadliest Catch" are no stranger to tragedy. With the deaths of a half-dozen cast members over the years, unfortunate events have struck the cast and fan base of the fishing-themed reality series time and time again. Captain Phil Harris, Keith Anderson, and Tony Lara are just some of the show's significant personalities who have died in recent memory. In July, 2020, cast member Mahlon Reyes also fell victim to what some fans call the show's curse. Shortly after Reyes died, the reality star's true cause of death was revealed (via USA Today).

According to IMDb, Reyes worked as a deckhand on the boats Seabrooke and Cape Caution. He otherwise starred in 14 episodes of the Discovery Channel show. In a statement, a representative from the Discovery Channel confirmed Reyes died in his hometown of Whitefish, Montana. At first, it was reported that Reyes had a heart attack, which according to his wife, he survived (per TMZ). Once hospitalized, Reyes never regained consciousness, though, and as a result, it was decided the deckhand would be taken off of life support. A short time later, Reyes died, surrounded by his friends and family. 

Reyes had recently had an Achilles tendon injury

Though Reyes (pictured) did have a heart attack leading to his hospitalization, removal from life support, and eventual death, a Flathead County Sheriff's department report later explained there were other contributing factors, as USA Today reports. In the aftermath of the reality TV star's death, the Discovery Channel issued a statement that read, "So sad, he was so young. Our thoughts and prayers to his family." Reyes' death shocked friends, family, and fans of "The Deadliest Catch" around the world, as there were no known pre-existing conditions that could contribute to a fatal heart issue in someone so young. Reyes was only 38.

According to TMZ, at the time that Reyes died, the deckhand was recovering at home from a recently torn Achilles tendon, an injury sustained from crabbing on the boat. He was otherwise focused on doing whatever he could to be ready to go the next season. In a memorial posted on Facebook, the Reyes family wrote (via USA Today) "On Sunday night our family together made the hardest choice we've ever made and that was to remove him from life support. Mahlon's body was tired and had put up an amazing fight. He was the strongest guy we knew ... He was surrounded by so much love." Reyes' wife told USA Today that some of his ashes would be spread in the Bering Sea and in Montana's Swan Range mountains, two of Reyes' favorite places, she said.

Reyes died from an accidental drug overdose

What caused Reyes to have a heart attack so young was later revealed to be an accidental cocaine overdose, or acute cocaine intoxication, according to the Flathead County Sheriff's office (via USA Today). Those findings were based on autopsy and toxicology results. No foul play was suspected (per TMZ). According to WebMD, chronic cocaine use can lead to a number of health conditions that tax the cardiovascular system for increased risks of heart attack and death.

Sadly, Reyes died only a short time before another "Deadliest Catch" star Nick McGlashan. Reportedly, Reyes' friend also died from a  drug overdose, per Outsider. Substance use issues such as what Reyes, McGlashan, and others experienced are an ongoing challenge in the fishing industry, according to SaltWire. After Reyes died, McGlashan tweeted, "This place misses you. RIP Mahlon," alongside a photo of the two fishermen together. Reyes was survived by his wife, Heather Sullivan, and four children.

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).